The following is a guest post from Jay Rifenbary. Jay, a professional speaker and trainer, is president of Rifenbary Training & Development and author of the best-seller, No Excuse! – Incorporating Core Values, Accountability and Balance into Your Life & Career. He has expertise in the areas of personal and professional development, servant leadership, and communication training.
How do you define your level of professionalism? Is it based on your patience, performance under pressure, manners, personal charisma, beliefs, or is it a deeper sense of awareness and commitment to take the high road in all you do? Certainly how you physically and emotionally handle yourself under stress and pressure, and how you effectively communicate in the midst of any stress and pressure contributes to an understanding of how emotionally patient, and how professional you are.
To exude professionalism is to display a personal pride in yourself with an understanding that being humble is also part of the process. A person exemplifying genuine professionalism is never arrogant and understands that their professional behavior can have a positive, calming, and educational impact on those around them.
Professionalism is defined as, “professional character, spirit or methods.” I believe all three of those elements relate to the behavioral component of professionalism as much as the occupational component. A doctor may be exceptional in his or her specific field of practice, but if they lack professionalism it will have a detrimental impact on the doctor-patient relationship. If a coach knows his or her sport, but displays a lack of professionalism, it will ultimately negatively impact team morale and performance. Professionalism is not the job you do, it is how you do your job. As German philosopher Goethe said, “Behavior is a mirror in which everyone displays his own image.”
As it relates to character, you do not respect someone who cannot maintain their level of professionalism in demanding situations, and they lose credibility. Who wants to associate with, or respects, an unprofessional individual? In respect to those in public service, it is completely evident how a lack of professionalism can destroy a career in an instant.
The development of one’s professionalism is significantly influenced by one’s past, upbringing and family relationships because of possible dysfunctional and codependent behavior patterns that were established growing up. When there is a history of emotional turmoil a defense mechanism is established to avoid any further similar emotional turmoil in the future. As an adult, this defense mechanism rears its ugly head when a situation may exist that triggers those past harmful emotions.
For example, if you are vulnerable to a feeling of inadequacy because of how you were parented, and a situation or dialogue presents itself where you feel inadequate, you are less likely to maintain your professionalism. As a child, if you perceived others not valuing who you were and developed a need to be appreciated, when a situation or dialogue presents itself where you feel unappreciated you are less likely to maintain your professionalism. As a result in both instances, you become emotionally impatient as evidenced by potentially abusive verbal and physical behavior.
In evaluating your professionalism ask yourself, “In what situations am I, or have I, been the most emotionally impatient or unprofessional? What are the roots of that emotional impatience? Do I, and have I, taken ownership for the aftermath of my behavior where I have been emotionally impatient? Taking personal accountability, and implementing the core vales that reflect the positive characteristics you believe in, is key to enhancing and maintaining your professionalism. The more those beliefs are virtuous, to include decency and respect, the greater level of professionalism you will display.
Professionalism is also an educational process. There are certain behavioral characteristics that can be taught which contribute to a greater level of individual professionalism. Manners, proper etiquette, appropriate attire, effective communication, respectful behavior, and consideration of others are all areas that can be taught in the process of becoming more professional. An individual’s level of professionalism is a culmination of putting into practice the values, experiences, successes and failures of one’s life. Be that professional and positive example every day in all you do. It is an example that is sorely needed and will be respected by those you parent, manage, lead and love.
Jay is a keynote speaker for the 2014 HR Management Conference scheduled for March 5 and Mach 6 at the McKimmon Center in Raleigh. At the conference, he will share additional tips for establishing emotional patience and more. Visit www.capital.org/hrconf today to register, view full agenda and review speaker information and presentation topics.